Written by Lori Thomas

Transitioning to a senior care community can mark a big change in the life of any senior. However, this move can be even more complicated when seniors have pets that they want to bring along with them. The good news is more and more nursing homes and assisted living facilities are becoming pet-friendly to accommodate seniors and their furry friends.

Why Pet Friendly Facilities Are So Important

Moving to senior care marks a major change of the life of any senior, and as seniors and their families start to look for the right community, it may not seem as though pet-friendliness should be a major “must-have” on the list of top features. However, finding a pet-friendly nursing home is actually very important to many seniors and for good reason.

There have been countless studies on the positive impact that pets can have on elderly individuals, especially those who may be suffering from dementia or the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Many times seniors who already have pets do not develop dementia and memory loss as quickly thanks to the constant routine and responsibilities that come with pet ownership.

However, studies aside, above all things, pets provide seniors with love and companionship. They can enrich the lives of seniors, especially those who are home-ridden and no longer able to get out as much as they want to. The presence of a pet can greatly decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation in seniors and prevent the onset of depression.

When seniors have pets already and need to move to an assisted living home, it is important to consider taking their pet with them. The move to assisted living can already be a stressful experience for any senior. While moving to assisted living is typically ultimately a positive experience, many seniors feel overwhelmed by the process of moving from their home to an assisted living community. It can bring about feelings of depression, sadness or even anger. Taking a senior’s pet away during this transition, unless it is ultimately necessary can only perpetuate these feelings.

Tips For Seniors Transitioning to Pet Friendly Facilities

Seniors who do decide to bring their pets to their new assisted living facility, may find they need to take a few extra steps to ensure a smooth transition to life in a senior community with their pet.

  • If seniors don’t currently have a pet, it isn’t recommended that they adopt one before moving to their new community. Many senior care facilities are wary about welcoming new and untrained pets.
  • Think of the needs of the pet. Some smaller, older and lower-energy dogs may do well in senior living communities. However, larger, younger and more energetic dogs that are used to having a yard and plenty of space to roam may not do as well with this new life.
  • Try to keep pets on the exact same schedule in their new home to help make the transition easier. Keep eating times, bathroom times and exercise times all the same.
  • Give pets at least a week or two to transition to their new home before introducing them to new animals or people. This is also a difficult transition for pets, they need time to settle as well.

Simple tips like this can really go a long way in helping both pets and seniors feel more comfortable with their transition to their new life in their new home.

Different Types of Pet-Friendly Facilities

There is no shortage of different pet-friendly senior communities in our world today. Some senior living homes, such as Keystone Villa at Douglassville in Pennsylvania not only allow pets inside the rooms but they also allow pet visitations for seniors who may have trusted their beloved animal to someone else but still want to see them from time to time. The same rules apply in Florence Alabama’s Merrill Gardens. Other nursing homes such as Barrington Terrace of Naples or the Woodlands of Middletown in Ohio allows small pets only, meaning seniors with cats, small dogs, birds or caged animals can bring their furry friends with them.

Not all assisted living facilities are welcoming of pets and each may have their own rules. It is important to check not only on size restrictions and types of pets allowed, but on breed restrictions as well. There are numerous breed restriction rules placed on rental facilities in many states around the country. Boxers, Mastiffs, German Shepherds, Huskies, Pit-Bulls and Pit-Bull mixes are all restricted breeds in some areas, with some renters being banned from owning these dog breed in their apartments. The same laws may apply to senior living communities. When seniors have these types of dogs, they may need to do a great deal of research on a facility first if they plan on bringing their dog along. Dogs that are also service dogs may be exempt from these rules.

The best thing seniors can do before ever visiting a pet-friendly assisted living facility is to call ahead, explain the situation and see what types of accommodations they can make for that specific pet and that specific situation. It is important to remember that even some pet-friendly senior communities may not accommodate all animals due to safety concerns for all of their residents.

Even if seniors decide not to bring their own pets to one of these facilities, they will find that more and more nursing homes and senior assisted living communities are incorporating animals into their facilities. Pet therapy programs and visiting pets have all been proven ways to boost the mood of residents and even help seniors fight depression and decrease their cholesterol levels. Seniors who are interested in animals but may not need a home for a pet of their own, may want to consider facilities such as this as well.

From charming senior living communities like The Heritage at Northern Hills in Sioux City, Iowa to the sprawling Park Terrace Care Center in Corona, New York, more and more senior assisted living facilities are adopting a pet-friendly policies and the list of communities jumping on the trend is only growing. As more research into the positive effects that pets can have on seniors continues to come out more and more assisted living facilities are becoming more pet-friendly as a way to help improve the lives, and the care, of their senior residents.

SeniorAdvice.com is a leading online advocacy site and information source for seniors and their caregivers.


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